SING-ALONG TIME - The Great Numbers

'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'

'Rule Britannia' - Fool Britannia?

'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' Chamber

'Yes, We Have No Bananas'

NB Items starting with ! are recent additions or updates.

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'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'

Dr Azikiwe's attitudes to the British are bewildering. Plural 'attitudes' because Zik clearly could not decide whether he loved the British or hated them. As a nationalist leader, he had a public persona to project and keep alive, and he would feel it necessary, as someone opposed to colonial rule, to damn the colonial oppressors of his people. Zik had a problem here because the British had a public persona to maintain too, so they were for the most part very nice to Zik and never put him in jail. Behind his back they said he was an old fraud, a poseur, an unscrupulous, conceited and quarrelsome troublemaker. It must be remembered too that the British read his mail, tapped his telephone and planted informers amongst his contacts, so they would know what his 'real' views of the British were.

Zik had his intelligence service, too, in the largely Igbo-staffed British administration. Zik's problem was that the British administration was probably as relaxed and kind and sensible as any colonial regime in history. It was not the fault of the men on the spot if resources were scarce. These officials came to love Nigeria and its peoples, and were often critical of their own administration. The need for elementary basic services, such as clean water and sewage services, schools and dispensaries was obvious and great. In that sense there was neglect, and in the North too much power was given to ignorant and feudal native authorities, but there was little or no real oppression or cruelty or bad behaviour. This made Zik's problems acute. It would have helped if he could have been seen as a martyr. He did try to provoke the British, but they largely ignored him. Neither was he in fact terribly keen to go to jail. He was a successful businessman who had a high standard of living and travelled a great deal.

Zik was a great joiner too, and seemingly enjoyed hospitality and being made a fuss of. Probably all the reports I noted are false. Surely Zik could not have supported Freemasonry, Moral Rearmament, the Catholic Church, the Communist Party and such a diverse group of disparate organisations. It seems Zik wanted to be accepted as a VIP and leader of his people. He sought respectability. Zik was not cut out to become a guerrilla fighter in the jungle.

The British were decent people. However, they had not built a great empire by being soft. They could be tough and ruthless, if opposed. It was sensible of Nigerians to accept British rule. Rebellion could have had bloody consequences. Neither do we know of all the excesses of British rule. The files are closed or destroyed. The British were nice guys when possible and good behaviour was rewarded, but colonial rule is not a children's tea party. We were an occupying force, with an army - though small - of occupation. Our intelligence service - a synonym for the administration, for all Britishers had a political and intelligence role - was everywhere and superb. The administration too was very efficient and cheap to run. The British were for the most part respected, liked and rarely unpopular.

It is little wonder that the British confused Zik. Neither were they too serious about absolute power, and a gradual handover began many years before final independence on 1 October 1960. Zik was not the only one who was confused - many of the British were a bit bewildered too. Few Northern administrators were best pleased at the prospect of handing over power to the Southern tribal leaders, Zik and Awolowo. It might have been all right if Nigeria had been a unified country or nation, but it was not by a long chalk. However, we British were upholders of the law and would not go along with anything underhand or deceitful.

So why did we come to rig Nigeria's independence elections? The question is rhetorical, and I have tried elsewhere to discover the answer, although it appears obvious that we were not really granting total independence. Strange as it may seem, I was not sold on total independence myself in 1960. I thought it was premature. What I really want to express is my shock. How could we do it?! We were genuinely decent people, doing a good job in very unhealthy places. We were thin on the ground and not well paid. It was a rotten career choice by modern standards, but our people got on with it. We were a cross section of graduates of the better endowed Universities. Most came from middle class backgrounds. Quite a few could claim to be upper class. I was working class myself, although I did obtain the imprimatur of an education at Magdalen College, Oxford, and I was a Fabian, earnest, serious, a do-gooder. I had done social work in London's East End and had once aspired to be a missionary. Quite a few of the British in Nigeria had a working class background, but they were in PWD, the Railway Department, Labour Department, and the Police and Army, not in the Administration who rigged Nigeria's independence elections. Even so, I had no problems in being accepted in Lagos, no more than I had in a wealthy college in Oxford. 'Manners maketh man', and are also an entrée into most circles. The doors that manners, politeness, sensibility and good humour do not open are probably not worth the bother.

"It was necessary." We were only obeying orders. The first part was absolutely categorical. Those were the Governor General's words to me in his office in 1960 when I asked him why we had rigged the elections. He implied the bit about obeying orders. He told me I was the only senior British officer to refuse to take part. He also said that I had been mistreated, which he openly admitted, not by him but by the Whitehall wallahs. I got the impression that he was saying to me that we were in the same boat really. We had orders and had to obey them. He said that being in the Colonial Services was the same as being in the Army (it is not, of course) and those who disobeyed orders could expect to pay the penalty. As the penalty on active service for disobeying orders can be death, I was giving his remarks my best attention.

Actually - and this was not an intellectual response but a surge of feeling - when he spoke indirectly of us obeying orders, he got to me somehow and I wanted to go along with him and do whatever he said. What he wanted was my word. My word never to speak to anyone of how we had rigged the elections. Maybe he did not know he had got to me. I have a strong sense of duty and believe... and suddenly I really do not know how he got to me. Anyway, he soon lost me because he switched to a very threatening stance. I do not respond to bullying, and I realised that for all his considerable charm and attractiveness, he had an icy-cold, amoral streak. What the balance of good and evil in him was, I do not know. He certainly had a most attractive personality when he switched it on. Robertson was, I think, extremely intelligent and he had a touch of warmth and sympathy. As I say, he was getting to me. I am not good with men close up in intimate conversation, but I felt he had some understanding of where I was. It was quite a shock when I saw the cold steel. He went on to say he would destroy me if necessary. I was more than frightened. I looked into his eyes. His expression had changed totally. His eyes were dead. He made me feel he could wring my neck and return to signing his papers without giving a second thought to my body lying on his carpet.

Did I say that Zik was bewitched, bothered and bewildered? Zik was not the only one.

25 March 1992

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'Rule Britannia' Fool Britannia?

All too often the desired balance in foreign affairs is not between the despised idealism and the favoured realism, but between honesty and criminality. In fact the favoured excuse for criminality is necessity. There is nothing new in all this. For centuries Britain wheeled and dealed to gain advantage; and lied and cheated, robbed or raped without a second thought. Britain also, on occasion, acted altruistically as when it turned against the slave trade.

Attlee's Government espoused honesty and decency, and started the Cold War and set up a secret terrorist force that practised state violence abroad for fifty years. However, Professor Charmley tells us that Attlee was indeed an idealist, but that the trade union bully Bevin got his way and overruled Attlee.

Wilson's bad behaviour in Nigeria, which killed two million, was his own doing for he admitted that he was almost isolated in his own Cabinet, but he got his murderous way. Paradox abounds and a case could be made that British policy is to have no policy at all. Given the mentality of the Oxbridge types, who run the Civil Service and particularly the Foreign Office, this is hardly surprising. They have no experience of anything but believe that they have a divine right to rule. One does not need to think up insults for these unfortunates; telling the truth about them is devastating enough. Britain's near bankrupt state since the Second World War is their single great achievement.

Fool Britannia, Cruel Britannia, Britain has been waiving the rules for centuries. The Third Way is an appropriate title for the efforts of the third-rate minds that rule Westminster and Whitehall.

21 April 1998

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Chamber...

The original Star Chamber was supposedly abolished in 1641, but as befits a tribunal appointed by the Crown and totally secret and severe in its judgements, it merely went underground and out of view. The security of the State is the only business of the Star Chamber, whatever name it goes by, whether it functions as an adjunct of the Joint Intelligence Committee, or Privy Council, and its clientele or victims do not even have to make an appearance. In wartime, spies are executed in secret and traitors disappear, and the enemy is quietly assassinated. Much the same happens, but less frequently, in peacetime, but in the Cold War, although it was business as usual, more secrecy was called for.

The sentence I got was unemployment for the rest of my life, which included, of course, the Civil Service by whom I was employed at that time. Any attempt to reveal the state secrets to which I was privy would be met by sufficient force to silence me. Some plea-bargaining was offered. In exchange for my word of honour never to reveal what I knew, I would have a brilliant foreign service career (I had made a brilliant start, it was conceded), rapid promotion and honours of my choice. Having declined these seductive offers, I was warned by a secret service agent to flee Africa before they killed me, and by a CIA agent to make a quick get-away and, when in London, by the use of a password, to make contact with the CIA's Station Chief in London.

The Governor General who passed judgement on me had clearly been fully briefed by his masters, both as to whether to pass judgement, and the exact sentence to be applied. To persuade me, as he said, of how much trouble I was in, he frankly admitted the total truth of the fact that the British Government was shamelessly rigging Nigeria's Independence Elections and, when I pleaded to know why, blithely answered that it was necessary. He said that, although I did not know all the facts, I knew far too much to be allowed my freedom. Anticipating or reading my thoughts, he advised me firmly in an almost friendly way, that no one would believe me and no paper would ever be allowed to publish my account.

"I'm a civil servant," I said desperately.

"Senior Colonial Service officers are the same as Army officers, and you know the penalty for disobeying orders on active service..." he answered crisply. He was threatening, oh so quietly, as if discussing whether to have tea or coffee, to have me killed. "Think of your wife and children," he added compassionately.

As my existing entitlement under the Widows' and Orphans' Pension scheme had been suspended, as he well knew, it did seem he had overlooked nothing.

He emphasised that I was on my own, though in truth three of us had protested.

"You are the only senior officer in the whole service engaged in this operation who has defied me and refused to obey my orders..."

His reference to the Army reminded me of the strategies employed to induce me to transfer to the Army at high rank. I had suspected a trap and now I knew that it had been one. His final threat was to the point.

"If you refuse to give your word, means will be found to silence you," he said...

This was the most powerful man in the largest and most important and richest nation in black Africa. Sir James Robertson was the Queen's representative and as such, when the Prime Minister visited Nigeria, he bowed to Sir James. That was the protocol. That was how powerful he was. The Queen had bestowed two, not one, personal knighthoods on Sir James, and he had a reputation for being totally ruthless, having ordered the execution of those found guilty of handing out leaflets which he thought were subversive.

If there is an appeal from the Star Chamber, I have not yet heard of one. I was silenced, and I was never employed again. Thereafter I was too busy trying to survive, to stay alive, to be much of a threat to public order.

29 April l994

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Yes. We Have No Bananas... (Popular song: Silver and Cohn, 1923)

If Britain had bananas it could be a Banana Republic. So, rather insolently, I told the Government in 1992. My criteria for dancing Latin American were:

a) Does the Government rig elections?

b) Is the Press strictly controlled?

c) Is official corruption tolerated?

d) Is a civil servant denied redress against injustice?

e) Is criminal Government action tolerated?

f) Are civil servants punished if they protest against criminal action by Government?

g) Are the secret services used to initiate and cover up criminal covert Government action?

Here we have the seven deadly sins of open and decent Government and, as I can demonstrate, the British Government is guilty on all seven charges. Albion has become Albania. Mr Major's window dressing with a series of autocratic charters - nil consultation is permitted - may one day lead our prostituted press to enquire why his shop is nevertheless quite empty like a pre-glasnost Moscow store. The Major charters are fraudulent in intent and merely confirm that Britain is one of the tackiest smaller nations on the periphery of the kind of civilised behaviour one is led to believe distinguishes advanced liberal nations from banana, brazil, cocoa, cotton and poppy territories.

Britain rigged Nigeria's independence elections in 1960. For thirty years the Press has not been allowed to publish the truth about this evil. The officials who perpetrated this evil, which led to the deaths of two million Nigerians, were rewarded with honours. Redress for loss of career etc. has been denied me. Government to this day have covered up this evil. Civil servants who uphold the law are illegally punished. The secret services are used both to carry out Government's dirty work and to ensure that the British public does not find out what is being done in their name.

We really do need a new national anthem now that we are the mainstay of the European Community. A proud lyric on the lines of,

"Confound their Politics, Frustrate their knavish Tricks..."


Britain is not only sans empire and wealth and prestige, but also morals. Sadly, we are not disposed to change our ways. Great Britain may soon only be remembered as the name of Brunel's jacked-up, iron-plated museum of a ship, now high and dry, beached and embalmed in the old slave-trade base of Bristol.

20 June 1992

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